Mande: I’m glad to welcome back my friend Matt Posner who was last featured here a few months back. Matt’s new book is Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships. It’s a nonfiction book, but I think that sounds like a great novel title too.
Matt: You know, I think it does, in a Judy Blume sort of way, and maybe Jess and I should do a novel like that, too. But we’re sticking to nonfiction collaboration, at least according to current plans.
Mande: Your book looks interesting, so please tell the readers about it.
Matt: The book features from-the-heart advice for teenagers about the broadest range of sex and relationship topics we could come up with: everything from how to know if you’re in love to how to respect your partner during a sexual encounter. It’s not a sex manual and not a relationship book but a little of both, a reference to give the reader a reality check on almost every topic important to young people. Jess and I wrote in a Q&A format, with each of us answering the same question separately. Since we are from two generations and different genders, our values and perceptions vary sometimes, giving teens more than one piece of advice for every situation. Of course, we do agree on issues related to safety and we agree that the path to contentment involves sincere emotional bonds between people; but I am more conservative and so more likely to say, “don’t do it because it’s a bad idea” whereas Jess will say, “think about your real goals and be true to yourself.”
Mande: What makes you guys qualified to write a book like this?
Matt: We aren’t doctors, psychologists, or counselors. We’re just people who are on your side, giving heart-to-heart advice. Our only qualification is life experience, the same as if you were asking a relative or an older friend. I know about teenagers because I work with them every day as a teacher, but more than that, I know about teenagers because I remember being one and I remember what was going on inside me and inside the people I knew. Jess is a very relationship-smart person who writes about the subject of authentic feelings and genuine connection in all of her fiction.
Mande: So what kind of questions do you answer?
Matt: The book is divided, for ease of browsing, into the sex section and the relationship section, even though these topics aren’t really separate in life. In the sex section we go through all the basics of physical intimacy, for straight and gay and in between, and then we talk about the other sex related major issues, such as masturbation, birth control, abortion, drugs, rape, pornography, body image, and less mainstream forms of sexuality. In the relationship section we discuss all stages of the formation of a couple, from first attraction all the way to breakup, talking about who is good to be with, how you know who is right for you, what being in a relationship feels like, how to make a relationship last, and how to know if a relationship needs to end. We tried to be as comprehensive as possible in our selection of questions, and our beta readers didn’t point out too many things we’d missed (what they did point out, we added in!).
Mande: Is there anything controversial in your book?
Matt: I expect there is, given the broad difference of opinion in the United States about what is sexually acceptable for teenagers. We said what we felt was best for the health of young people, but our advice doesn’t necessarily fit every political or religious agenda. We don’t consider ourselves to be sexually explicit in this book, but we think we are giving just the standard information that young people need to make good decisions and conduct themselves properly. And as far as guiding young people’s choices, we gave them all the facts they need to make smart sexual decisions, including identifying the consequences of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. But you know, honestly, Twilight probably stirs up more romantic and sexual feelings that Teen Guide possibly can by saying who puts what where when.
Mande: It sounds like you’re tackling big issues, Matt! I appreciate that you’re not skirting tough issues and speaking matter-of-factly. Too often, “adults” push their own agendas on young adults when all anyone wants are frank, honest answers. Seems like you’re filling that gap. I want to thank you for visiting my blog, and letting us know about your new guide, Matt. Always a pleasure.
Matt: My pleasure, and please keep working on the Shadowlight series. I want to see another novel this year!
Mande: Oh, you bet! I’m on it. That goes for you, too. Best of luck with Teen Guide.
+ MEDIA MENTIONS +
– Official Announcement / Joint Interview(Feb 2012)
– Jess interviewed at Unwritten (Apr 2012)
– Matt interviewed by Laurie (May 2012)
BLOG TOUR (full list):
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“Jaw-dropping bold, insightful, and informative.” — Bernard Schaffer, best-selling author of Superbia
“…very informative and something that every teen would be interested to read (and should read) because the information in the book is really useful and stuff that a lot of people would be too embarrassed to talk about or ask in real life.” — Marie C., 18 y/o, Singapore (via email)
“The questions were fab. They were questions that most teens ask every day. [The questions] were really well answered and really relevant.” — Natasha W., 17 y/o, United Kingdom (via email)
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VIDEO #1: Jess’s trailer/video for Teen Guide
VIDEO #2: Matt Posner on the inspiration behind Teen Guide
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